Show us your income tax returns, Najib

By Kee Thuan Chye

Dear Najib,

You have come out to call tax evaders traitors. That’s a very strong word. If you had used it on corrupt public officials and politicians, especially government ministers, that would have been more apt. It would have struck a resonant chord. It would also have indicated your seriousness in fighting corruption within your ranks.

As it is, according to your minister Paul Low, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested nine politicians who were reported to be involved in corruption between 2010 and August 2013, and only five have been charged. That’s a pretty low number over the course of four years. The minister did not clarify who these politicians were, but one would presume that they were part of the ruling party.

It may well be that Malaysian politicians, including those holding public office, are generally clean, but the unofficial allegations that have been brought up from time to time tell us a hugely different story. You may be aware of them yourself – allegations about this minister living beyond his means, like building a palatial home, and that minister receiving kickbacks or laundering money for his so-called “adopted son”. And of course the biggie surrounding Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his relatives, some of whom were caught on video earlier this year by the international NGO Global Witness allegedly offering logging licences in return for profit.

Only a few days ago, Sarawak Report exposed another alleged scheme of Taib and his family in exploiting the Bandar Samariang low-cost housing project for their own financial gain. If these allegations about the family are true, what would you call the people involved? More important, would you launch an investigation and haul them in for corruption?

Okay, let’s get back to the tax evaders issue. I have a proposal for you that I hope you will accept to prove your sincerity and accountability as a leader.

Since you call tax evaders traitors, show us you are not one. Release your income tax returns to the public. Let us know how much income you make, what assets you own and how much tax you pay. Get your ministers to do the same. Show us that you are not a traitor, that you do not under-declare your income or resort to tax shelters in order to pay less tax.

Don’t try and back out of this one, with some excuse or other. The US president publicly reveals his income tax returns and declares how much tax he pays. And that’s good, don’t you think? He apparently has nothing to hide. Even if he tried to, it’s all out there in the open. If he’s found out later, he can be held accountable.

You should do the same. Since you condemn others for evading tax, it is all the more incumbent on you now to show that you are not doing it yourself. You probably know the saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

For your information, the tax returns of US presidents are protected by law from public disclosure, but since the late 1960s, most of them have chosen to release their returns publicly. Apparently, Gerald Ford is the only exception. Even candidates for the presidency do the same, including those contesting in party primaries.

If you want to look at the combined tax returns of Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, for 2012, please click here.

Barack and Michelle reported an adjusted gross income of US$608,611. They both paid US$112,214 in total tax. It could have been higher if they had not donated about 24.6 per cent of their adjusted gross income to charity. That’s a generous US$150,034.

Out of curiosity, may I ask how much you donate to charity? You may of course include your wife’s donations too, if you like. Oh, by the way, does she pay income tax?

On top of the federal income tax, the Obamas also released their state tax returns and reported paying US$29,450 to their home state of Illinois.

For Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill’s combined federal tax returns for 2012, have a look here.

They reported an adjusted gross income of US$385,072 and paid US$87,851 in total tax. For state income tax, they filed separate returns, with Jill filing a non-resident one for the state of Virginia. They paid US$13,531 to Delaware and US$3,593 to Virginia.

The Bidens gave to charity US$7,190. That’s a small fraction of what the Obamas donated, but that’s not the point.

The point is, don’t you think this sort of declaration contributes to a wonderful and open system?

Other countries that operate with such openness and transparency include Sweden, Finland and Norway. In fact, there, everyone’s income tax returns are made public. It is said to cohere with the Scandinavian tradition of jantelag, which roughly means that nobody is better than anyone else.

It should also cohere with the “best democracy” that you promised for Malaysia in the speech you made on September 16, 2011. Don’t you agree?

If you recall, on that occasion, you announced the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which effectively outlawed the use of preventive detention in Malaysia. Now that preventive detention is back – reinstated through the recent amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act – does your promise of “best democracy” still hold true?

In that speech, you also said the repeal of the ISA was part of the political transformation that your government was carrying out pertaining to human rights. You said, “The time has come for us to take another step forward not only in economics and education but also in upholding democratic principles.”

Do you still believe that?

If you do, walk the talk. For now, to put your money where your mouth is, disclose your tax returns publicly. And get your deputy and your other ministers to do the same. Be a leader and lead the way. Prove to us that you can lead.

Otherwise, you are just sounding like a prime minister who is talking in abrasive language because your coalition didn’t win the popular vote at the last general election in May.

Otherwise, we will not know for sure that you are not a traitor – like any vile, shameful, despicable, crooked, cheapskate tax evader.



  1. #1 by rjbeee on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 8:57 pm

    This rats are making money, all is halal..fatwa..what fatwa….
    they are cheating the people …Get mamak tongkang…well he is in IJN..time is up bro

  2. #2 by rjbeee on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 8:58 pm

    Fat Rosmah is making money… Sharizatis a another ratb who does not know what her husband ia doing….looks like she is with…….,?????

  3. #3 by worldpress on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 9:17 pm


    You pay full amount, OK!

    I pay full amount, Not OK!

  4. #4 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 9:37 pm

    Those farkers are the biggest traitors

  5. #5 by lauksnatlks on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 9:41 pm


    I really like this article. Well written and I think it hits a big Bull Eye. Malaysia certainly need patriots like u. Damn these traitors.

    View Across the Straits.

  6. #6 by Sallang on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 12:30 am

    Wage earners paid taxes without knowing how much they were being tax, ever since the government introduced progressive taxation.
    Although at the end of the year, the forms returned by the JHDN shows outstanding, the poor wage earner simply cannot have the money to pay in full. So, another month comes along, and the employer starts deducting again.
    I am a victim of such a situation. I have been paying income tax for the past 30 years under employment, and I am now retired nearly 6 years, without income.
    LHDN sent me a letter, claiming that I still owe outstanding rm4000, backdated 13 years, threatening that if I don’t pay, my passport will be blocked from leaving the country.

  7. #7 by ReformMalaysia on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 3:52 am

    UMNO leader will not donate … but the will get “donation” from certain parties……. You help me I help you…..

  8. #8 by Winston on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 7:03 am

    We have traitors in the federal government that “leaks” our wealth very badly over the decades.
    We have traitors who squander the tax-payers’ money like its a legacy from their grandfathers.
    We have traitors who issued citizenship for votes.
    We have traitors who run up a humongous National Debt of billions of Ringgit in a very resource rich country.
    We have traitors who cannot account for where our wealth has gone.
    We have traitors who are destroying the country with all sorts of projects that are more grandoise than useful or necessary.
    We have traitors who are now going to squeeze the citizens of this country several notches tighter with new taxes and at the same time withdrawing subsidies.
    We have traitors who are a law unto themselves.

  9. #9 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 7:31 am

    This is how we defined traitors:

    1: spending public money without having to care less. Look at the AG report.
    2: robbing and plundering the country’s resources. Look at Sabah and Sarawak.
    3: Pkfz, airports, railways, submarines dubious procurements.
    4: project ICs.

    We can go on and on. But who are the biggest traitors? And he dared lecture us?
    First go straightened up your FLOM first then you can talk.

  10. #10 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 7:51 am

    Firstly, Najib was disqualified already from calling anyone else a traitor when he allowed Scorpene corrupt deal-makers sold classified information. His disqualification is compounded by the farce he set up in Sabah Royal commission on illegal immigration that proved UMNO and Mahathir’s treason.

    Furthermore, if tax evasion is treason, why is Taib in Sarawak and Musa Aman in Sabah not already sentenced to death?

    Clearly Najib’s fake and phony on this is EVEN MORE than his usual self.

  11. #11 by tuahpekkong on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 10:50 am

    I think who the real traitors of the country are should be quite obvious to the slightly learned public. Even if there are some tax evaders around, how much is the total loss of revenue to the country compared to the irregularities happening in our country which is sapping the nation? A hawker has to toil day and night for up to 15 hours. Some good ones with brisk business may earn up to RM 10,000/- a month. Assuming that the hawker business is run by a couple and a helper, even if the couple don’t pay taxes, the yearly loss to the Government may only amount to around RM 1,000/-. Compare this to the purchase of a lap-top or a pair binoculars for over RM 40,000/-, which loss is greater? And we have so many other scandals which resulted in billions of losses to the Government. If the Government can put a stop to all these rubbish, then instead of getting only 47% of the popular vote in the recent GE, BN may even end up winning 74% of the popular vote in the next GE.

  12. #12 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 - 8:01 pm

    Najib, ahoy, you just opened up a difficult can of worms for yourself and your family.

    Now who are the real traitors in Malaysia:

    Politicians who accept kickbacks for projects.
    Politicans who use proxies to get contracts at multiple times real contract values.
    Civil servants who makan suap and sapu kontrek for personal benefit.

    Malaysian taxpayers are not stupid and do not behave stupid when they see politikus makan padi and crony makan duit and civil servants ikut politikus.

    Try UMNO be clean and see how much surplus we have in the national coffers…. and taxpayers giving more and more to the nation.

    Taxpayers do not like to pay politikus to eat their cheese for them.

  13. #13 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 1:43 am

    Najib actually PAYS tax? Really? I thought everything he charged to the government as official expenses.

    In Income Tax, any expenditures that are ENJOYED and PERSONAL in nature MUST be ADDED BACK and put in income tax statement and TAXED, including that engagement affair in Kazakhstan, daughter’s graduation etc etc.

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 2:15 pm

    Paid RMXX tax, no sweat 1, cos can easily jiak, jiak back one or more times of RMXX lah

  15. #15 by Kedahan-Malaysian in Japan on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 7:35 pm

    Superbly well written piece…
    For all the garbage blurted out from his mouth, I’d like to see how he wriggles himself out of this challenge…
    But then again, what can we really expect from such a scoundrel?

  16. #16 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 10:29 pm

    Dia berani tunjuk? Tunjuk buntut dia berani la…
    Muhyidin berani tunjuk?
    Takpa, di akhirat nanti depa kena jawab…

  17. #17 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 10:32 pm

    Jib,mamat yang order beli jam rm3810 sebiji, apa kau nak gelar dia?
    Pemboros? Penyangak? Pengkhianat?

  18. #18 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 28 November 2013 - 10:36 pm

    Jib, yang kuat makan suap, apa gelaran kau bagi?
    Jib, ingat ya denganNya…

You must be logged in to post a comment.